Art A-Z: B – Bilibin Ivan

Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin (1876, Tarkhovka – 1942, Leningrad) – painter, illustrator, theatre decorator.


Studied at the Law Faculty of the Saint-Petersburg University (1896 – 1900), and simultaneously at the Painting School of Peredvizhniki (1895 – 1898). Besides, Bilibin passed courses at Azbe’s studio in Munich, at Repin’s workshop in Tenisheva’s school and at the Academy of Arts.


Member of Mir Iskusstva (World of Art) fellowship.

In 1920-1925 – travelled in Egypt, Palestine, Syria. In 1925 – 1936 – worked in Paris, in 1936 – returned to Saint-Petersburg.

Bilibin started his career as book illustrator and by 1900s became one of the leaders of Russian modern. His style was inspired by Japanese woodcut of XVIII-XIX centuries, Russian Lubok and English painter Birdsley’s graphic manner. Bilibin created his own festive style of Russian illustration, which he called “noble lubok”.


Bilibin made a series of decorations and costume designs for theatre performances, including Musorgsky’s Boris Godunov and for Dyagilev’s Ballet Russes.

He became famous for illustrations for Russian fairy tales, including those written by Pushkin, he also made illusrations for fairy tales edited by Flammarion.


Read more:

Art A-Z: L – Lubok


Art A-Z: V – Vereshchagin Vasily

Vasily Vasilievich Vereshchagin (1842, Cherepovets -1904, Port-Arthur) – painter.

After graduation from Navy Cadet Corps he started to learn painting at classes of Peredvizhniki (1858 – 1860), then at the Academy of Art (1860-1863), and later in Paris at Jerome’s school (1860-1863).

In the course of his life Vereshchagin made trips in Russia, Central Asia, China, India, Middle East, Japan. He thoroughly portrayed different ethnicities, their everyday life, traditions, costumes and gathered vast ethnographic collection. His memoir is an interesting source of information about people that he met.

Vereshchagin visited the most remote corners of the world, in India, together with his wife he was the first European man to attend a religious ceremony in one of mountain monastery.

The Tamerlan’s Gate, 1871

Although Vereshchagin loved to paint peaceful life, his works that demonstrated war brought him fame (see up The Apotheosis of War). As he considered that in order to be able to portray military scenes truthfully, he volunteered and personally participated in many battles. He took part in Russian-Turkish war and Central Asian campaign. In 1904, he went to Japan, a country that he dreamed for years. On his way to battle fields of Russian-Japanese wars he died when flagship blasted on a mine.

Defeated. Requiem, 1877

Vereshchagin established himself as independent painter, he never joined any society of fellowship. Russian authorities criticised him for lack of patriotism and too realistic military scenes. But military men respected him, General Mikhail Skobelev gave him his personal blazon. Besides. his works were appreciated abroad, his had several successful exhibitions on London, Paris, etc, and auction in New-York.

Art A-Z: S – Serov Valentin

Valentin Aleksandrovich Serov (1865, Saint-Petersburg – 1911, Moscow) – painter.

Studied at the Academy of Arts (1880-1885) in P.Chistyakov’s classes. In 1887-1909 – teacher of painting at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.

In 1894 – 1899 – member of Peredvizhniki. Since 1899 – member of Mir Iskusstva (World of Art) fellowship. In 1903 Serov became member of the Academy of Arts, but quitted it in 1905 after fusillade of peaceful demonstration on the 9th January of 1905.

Born to a family of a composer. His father knew I.Repin, who became the first Serov’s teacher of painting, when he was ten.

The Girl with Peaches


One the brightest members of Abramtsevo circle, where his early artistic style established. In Abramtsevo he made several famous works, including The Girl with Peaches (1887) and The Girl on the Sun (1888).

As other members of Mir Iskusstva Serov was particularly interested in Russian history. His works dedicated to Peter the Great (Peter I on Hunt (1902, Peter I (1907) showed Serov’s skill to create composition and portray characters.

Serov’s fame enabled him to execute orders of rich people of the epoch – members of royal family, nobility, entrepreneurs, artists.

Peter I

In 1907, he travelled to Greece with L.Bakst, and made several paintings dedicated to myths and history of Ancient Greece.

The Rape of Europa (1910)

Since 1909, Serov cooperated with Dyagilev’s Ballets Russes, he made decorations for opera Judith (1909, together with L.Bakst), designed curtain for ballet Scheherazade (1911), etc. He also made famous portrait of Ida Rubinstein in 1910 (Dyagilev’s ballerina) (see up).

Interesting Fact

In 2015, The Tretyakov Gallery organized the exhibition of Serov’s works, which became so popular and so many people wanted to visit it, that one day visitors broke the doors of the entrance.

Read more:

Art A-Z: R – Repin Ilya

Art A-Z: B – Bakst Lev

Art A-Z: A – Abramtsevo Circle